The modern enterprise is defined more by IT than by any other factor. IT suffuses the organization, powering productivity, enabling new product development and innovation, and enhancing collaboration, customer-connection, and employee engagement. Put simply, IT is now synonymous with business.

Though this has become a truism, organizations still suffer from the business-IT schism. Often, business and IT teams are at loggerheads, unable to bridge cultural and perceptual differences and unable to overcome the “overhang” of old systems that don’t allow for transparency and productive alignment. 

This has to end. Business agility is the watchword in a complex, modern marketplace and this agility requires harmony between Business and IT. The business must be run by smart IT and IT must be run like a smart business. 

This concept finds its highest articulation in these areas: data, hybrid IT, and agility 

Data

Data is the new oil. Data is the core source of value for organizations as they look for new ways to understand customers and partners and develop markets. Existing data infrastructures, however, keep data opaque and closed off to the majority of folks in the organization. Agility comes from the democratization of access and transparency. This is about technology systems that are architected to support the desired behavior, not just about cultural change and perception. 

Hybrid IT

IT is complex. With the advent of SaaS and cloud computing, IT is now managing a hybrid IT environment. How should AWS/Azure spend and SaaS sprawl be managed? How does offering optimal elastic computing to different parts of the business connect these platforms to core business drivers? How does IT forecast and spend resources (money, people, time) in a way that aligns with the goals of the board room? This is once again about putting systems into place that foster cost transparency, accountability, and strategic decision-making.

Agility

With both hybrid business models and hybrid IT, alignment is key to agility. Fundamentally and organically connecting IT with business drivers and ensuring that the business capitalizes on the power of IT are crucial factors in gaining competitive advantage and achieving success. IT must be run like a business and business must consider IT as inherent to success.

Achieving alignment 

Until recently, harmony between the business and IT would be seen as idealistic and lofty. Today, products and services that improve cost transparency and the IT planning process bridge old gaps between business and IT. The agility that is borne of transparency and planning in a connected, accountable way across business and IT is now possible. 

At stake here is nothing less than the future of innovation and organizational success. 

For practical advice on creating more harmony between business and IT in your organization, read Forrester's report: The CIO Mandate: Engaging Customers With Business Technology.

Romi Mahajan has been writing about Business-IT Synergy for a decade. He is the Chief Commercial Officer of TimeXtender and advises three dozen companies across the globe. Read Romi's blog here.